• February 12, 2018

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A daily look at deals, events, and transactions of note for trade and investment in Cuba.

Arkansas governor calls trade missions to Cuba, China critical: Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) said in a weekly newspaper column that his trade missions to Cuba, China, and Europe have been critical to supporting agriculture, his state’s No. 1 industry. “Since I took office in 2015, I’ve traveled the globe to help open additional markets for our state’s agricultural producers, including trade missions to Cuba and China and Europe,” Hutchinson wrote. “As a result, we’ve brought back a handful of Chinese companies that will directly benefit our cotton and timber industries. And shortly after I returned from Cuba, the Cuban government ordered 4,500 tons of poultry from Arkansas companies.” (Newton County Times)

Cuba names new head of diplomacy for U.S.: An experienced Cuban diplomat, Carlos Fernández de Cossío, is taking over as the Cuban Foreign Affairs Ministry’s general director for the United States. He replaces Josefina Vidal, who was a visible Havana representative during the restoring of relations between the U.S. and Cuba that took place under former President Barack Obama and abruptly ended when President Trump took office just over a year ago. Fernández de Cossío was a leading Cuban official on U.S. matters in the 1990s, when Cuba was juggling a severe economic crisis that came with the collapse of the Soviet Union, and complicated relations with the U.S. (14ymedio)

Creditors call for Cuba to start talks on unpaid debt from ’80s: A creditors group is trying to get Cuba to start talks on more than $1 billion in unpaid commercial debt dating to the 1980s. The Cuban London Club creditors committee has hired high-powered American attorney Lee Buchheit of the Cleary Gottlieb law firm. Buchheit said Cuba would “need to clean those Augean stables” and resolve the issue of unpaid debt before major international investors would consider putting money into the island. The group said it put a reasonable offer on the table in January and was awaiting a response. A representative of the Cuban government did not respond to CNBC’s request for comment. (CNBC)

‘Paladares’ author discusses book on U.S. radio culinary show: Award-winning food critic Anya Von Bremzen, author of “Paladares: Recipes from the Private Restaurants, Home Kitchens, and Streets,” discussed her book about the underground Cuban restaurant scene on U.S. public radio culinary show The Splendid Table. She described paladares as “a kind of speakeasy,” where private restaurateurs make use of “a suitcase trade” to improvise nightly menus despite the constraints of the U.S. embargo and  the lack of a wholesale market. “If you need something like malted salt, vanilla, spices, everyone brings it in the suitcases and they’re not supposed to,” she said. “It’s literally like you don’t know what’s going to be on the menu and then all these people suddenly come knocking on your door with great fish.” (The Splendid Table)

Havana International Book Fair wraps up: The 27th Havana International Book Fair wrapped up on Sunday after bringing publishers from 41 nations to Cuba. The fair included symposiums, lectures, readings, awards, and other events in the Fortress of San Carlos de la Cabaña, the main venue. China, the official guest of honor, sent 200 representatives from 60 publishing houses bringing 3,000 titles in Spanish, Mandarin, and English. The 27th edition of the fair was dedicated to Dr. Eusebio Leal, a historian of Havana. (Prensa Latina, Xinhua)

Harlistas Cubanos hold meeting to show off antique motorcycles: The Harlistas Cubanos, a club of Harley-Davidson fans, held their annual meeting over the weekend at the Cuban beach resort town of Varadero. About 80 people from all over the island displayed their antique motorcycles in the town’s central park. Abel Pez, the event’s organizer, estimated that there are about 120 working Harley-Davidson’s in Cuba, mostly from the 1940s and ’50s, with another 50 or so that aren’t working. “Once a year, we meet here as a way to cultivate friendship among Cubans who share the passion for having these motorcycles,” he said. (Xinhua)

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